Perfect fucking angel Billy Green‘s #popsicleweek is upon us– and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Chicago has gone from “lousy smarch weather” to “swamp-ass bowels of hell” overnight. We’re hot. We’re sweaty. And all this heat is making us sleepy. In desperate need of coffee (but tired of that bougie cold brew), we poured our Chemex into popsicle molds and this happened.
It’s your morning caffeine hit in a fucking paleta. You’re. Welcome.
Root chicory (not to be confused with its leafy cousins) has been used as a coffee substitute for basically ever. Like. They drank this business while building the pyramids. When the roots are dried, ground and brewed, it makes a kind-of-bitter, oddly tangy, dark liquid with a deep earthiness and a grassy, malt finish. It looks just like coffee– and tastes like a hershey bar that was left in an old barn during a thunderstorm. But, like, in a good way.
Because it’s cheap, vaguely nutritious and requires no special equipment (or special hookup in Ethiopia) to procure, it’s been particularly popular during times of economic distress or global crisis– and it was extremely important to New Orleans’ wannabe French cafes during the Civil War.
Since Union troops did an A+ job shutting shit down anywhere a boat could bring supplies: coffee stopped coming into the city. Industrious coffee house owners started adding chicory to coffee as a means to keep business afloat (and give people something refreshing to drink while they thought about the atrocities had been committed in the area 💁). Eventually, chicory– along with acorn and beet brews– completely replaced whole-bean coffee. When the caffeine supply was eventually restored, New Orleanians kept the chicory around because they grew to love its weird-but-compelling taste.
Today, chicory cafe au laits (the perfect foil to giant puffy beignets) are icons in the NOLA food scene and they’re a staple in our brunch rotation. A giant, kitschy, orange tin of Cafe du Monde chicory can be found in every grocery store’s coffee aisle. It will last you for ever and set you back about five bucks. Pull it out when you want to make perfect popsicles, duh– or whenever you want to show your favorite hipster coffee nerds that you don’t need fancy coffee to drink something delicious.
- 6 tbsp ground Chicory-Coffee blend
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tiny pinch Nutmeg
- 6 cups Boiling Water
- ⅔ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Place the chicory-coffee business along with the cinnamon and nutmeg into your preferred coffee making vessel's filter and brew. We roll Chemex. You can do drip. Whatever. Just so long as it's not a Keurig, we're good.
- Transfer to a pourable pitcher (so you don't get milk skuzz in your coffee pot) and stir in the sweetened condensed milk. It will taste way too sweet right now because your brain thinks it's drinking coffee, not eating a popsicle. So don't worry about it.
- Carefully, without burning your dang self, pour the chicory into your popsicle molds. Pop in some sticks and freeze until. Well. Um. Frozen. And then eat them. Maybe for breakfast. We won't judge.